Landis weighs 5-cent tax hike, vehicle fee for road repairs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

LANDIS — Mayor Mike Mahaley said at Monday’s budget meeting that repaving Landis’ roads has been a priority of his since he was first elected.

“I said something to (Town Manager Reed Linn) about, ‘We need to pave some roads.’ That was probably within the first month or so. And his thing was, ‘Well, we don’t have the (money,)’” Mahaley recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, find a way to generate the income to pave some roads.’”

Over the course of three budget meetings, the Landis Board of Aldermen decided on a way to generate that revenue — a 5-cent property tax increase and the implementation of a $30-per-vehicle annual registration fee.

Mahaley said he has gone back and forth on whether he agrees with the vehicle fee.

“I was kind of in favor of it and thought it was just a great idea to start with. And then a little bit later on, listening to some other board members, it was like, ‘Well, that’s a pretty big whack because we’re going to have to do a property tax also,’” Mahaley said.

Mahaley said it was the amount of revenue that would be generated from the property tax increase and the vehicle fee that “sealed the deal” for him.

“We’re going to have about close to an extra $100,000 there to put on roads,” Mahaley said. “I think it’s the best solution.”

The property tax increase and vehicle registration fee would produce enough revenue for $300,000 worth of street paving. The vehicle fee alone would generate $102,900 a year exclusively for streets.

Mayor Pro Tem Tommy Garver said other nearby towns and cities, such as Kannapolis and Salisbury, have vehicle registration fees.

“So we aren’t doing anything unusual from what other towns are doing,” Garver said.

“And the good thing about it is 100 percent of that money has got to be used on streets,” Linn said of the vehicle fee.

Linn said in an email that Landis has about 23 miles of paved streets and that $300,000 would not be enough to repave all of them.

“But it will give us a starting point and a plan for street paving,” Linn said.

With a property tax increase of 5 cents, a person who owns a home valued at $150,000 would pay $75 more than he did last year — an increase from $720 to $795.

A property tax increase of 5 cents would produce $154,000 more for the town than last year’s property tax rate.

In two previous budget meetings, the board also discussed increasing property taxes by 7 cents.

A 7-cent increase would generate $51,307 more than a 5-cent increase, but the board voted against having that high a tax.

The proposed budget, which was balanced at $3,522,686 as of Monday, involves several transfers from other funds into the general fund — $100,000 from the Powell Bill fund balance, $150,000 from the light fund and $40,000 for the Facility Improvement Fund.

Those transfers, plus the 5-cent property tax increase, will go toward the following:

• Town employees will get a 3 percent cost-of-living raise.

• Two new employees will be hired for landscape work and new landscaping equipment will be purchased.

• Part-time employees will be added to the parks and recreation staff.

• Capital improvements will be made at City Hall, the Landis Fire Department, and a parks and recreation property.

• $300,000 will be available for street paving.

The Storm Water Fund has been balanced at $100,500 and includes capital improvements for drainage and runoff construction.

The date for the next budget meeting will be set at the Board of Aldermen’s next meeting, which is May 7.

The budget has not been completed. The public will have an opportunity to comment on it at a future Board of Aldermen meeting.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.